Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fast and Fresh Meal

Sorry, no pictures for this one. I had just returned from the farmers market located on campus and was trying to squeeze in dinner before we headed to the Sounds baseball game. I had picked up some beautiful yellow cherry tomatoes and thought that they would make a perfect pasta sauce for that leftover pasta from last week, which luckily, defrosts quickly.

I started to boil the water for the pasta as I sliced the little cherry tomatoes in half. I then cooked them in butter and olive oil with a little, okay a lot of garlic. I added some crushed red pepper, salt, and some Parmesan cheese then added the al dente noodles to coat them in the sauce. Throw in some freshly torn parsley and you have a quick and delicious, fresh meal!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Smiling Elephant

Last night we finally made it to the Thai restaurant, The Smiling Elephant. We have wanted to try this restaurant for a very long. I don't know why we waited for so long because the food was amazing. The restaurant fills up fast and we were lucky to arrive when we did, otherwise we would be sitting outside in the humidity waiting for a table. The inside is VERY small. There are about 11 tables, if that, and you can view the kitchen through glass where the chefs are at woks cooking up a storm.

We started out with fresh vegetables and a peanut dipping sauce. These quickly blanched vegetables included zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, cabbage, and carrots. They were served with a peanut sauce that was both sweet and spicy. It was a great, refreshing appetizer to begin the meal.

At The Smiling Elephant they are known for their Pad Thai, so we of course had to try that. WOW! What a blend of flavors! The noodles were thick and cooked to perfection and provided a great base for the warm peanut sauce, chicken, and vegetables. This Pad Thai was unlike any other that I have had before. There was something very fresh about it while being comforting and homey as well. Great flavors!

In addition we had the curry of the day which was  Panang, with chicken. The flavors of coconut milk and lemongrass were melded into this curry. The flavors were so bright and blended perfectly together.

I would highly recommend this restaurant and we can't wait to go back and try even more of their extensive menu.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Homemade Fettuccine and Meatballs

Homemade pasta is one of my favorite things. I am usually not much of a pasta person, but I can't resist the delicious taste and texture of pasta made from scratch. I use the pasta recipe from my favorite restaurant back home Trattoria Grappolo who conveniently has a cookbook. I have a hand-crank pasta machine that rolls out the dough and cuts into fettuccine and spaghetti. I prefer the fettuccine because it is wider and has a little more texture, plus it is a lot easier to handle than the spaghetti. I made the marinara from scratch as well as the meatballs, although they were leftover from the night before when I made Italian Wedding Soup.

I don't have a fancy pasta drying rack. Hangers work just fine, just make sure you can hang them somewhere where they won't fall off. 
There is plenty of leftover pasta if you are just feeding two people. I had leftovers of the prepared meal and froze the rest of the uncooked pasta. I plan on making Swedish Meatballs with Buttered Egg Noodles for dinner sometime next week!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Peach-Basil Popsicles

One of my favorite desserts are popsicles, especially from the local popsicle company in Nashville 'Las Paletas'. They specialize in Mexican style popsicles in a variety of flavors. I especially like how they have popsicles that you wouldn't be able to find in the stores such as Chocolate with chili, Rose, and Hibiscus. But these aren't cheap. So for the past few weeks I have been on the search for popsicle molds. It doesn't seem like they should be that hard to find. I know I've seen them in the grocery store a million times. But of course when I go looking for them I couldn't find any! And I wasn't about to pay a bunch of money for those fancy popsicle makers. I was lucky the other day when I was in Ross and came across a set of popsicle molds, in the shape of rockets of course. As soon as I got home I was making popsicles!

Peach-Basil Popsicles

3 peaches
Fresh basil- to taste, I used about 3 leaves
Juice of one lemon
Add a little water, about 1/4 a cup, or you could use juice
Sugar to taste (or simple syrup)

1) Have molds ready
2) In blender or food processor blend peaches, pit removed of course, but I left the skins on. Then add the basil, sugar (or simple syrup) and lemon juice and blend until combined. Add water until smooth

3) Pour mix into popsicle molds, following any directions for molds, such as how much space to leave
at the top (I left too much space this first round)

4) Freeze for at least 4 hours
5) Remove from freezer and run under water to loosen and then enjoy!

They were amazing tasting! I think I ate three that night. It's basically all fruit so it's okay. Next I'll be making some Watermelon-Mint Popsicles. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cardamom Cookies

I made Indian food the other night for dinner and I recently saw a recipe for Cardamom Cookies in the September issue of Everyday Food. I thought they would be the perfect dessert with that dinner. I used cardamom seeds that I crushed myself from the pod. Which reminds me that I really need to get a spice grinder, it would make it so much easier. But despite this, the cookies were delicious. They were a shortbread-like cookie with just a touch of spice and lemon. So yummy! I even added a little crushed pistachio to the top.

Cardamom Cookies (adapted from Everyday Food, September 2011)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps sugar
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (I used freshly ground)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
Crushed pistachio (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl mix butter and sugar until fluffy. Add lemon zest, cardamom, and salt and mix. Then add flour a little at a time.
2) Form dough into 10 1-inch balls and flatten with bottom of floured glass to make circular, flat cookies. Add crushed pistachios to the top. Bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Balsamic Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

I'm back from Bolivia and a quick trip to Michigan and Chicago. I was ready to be back in the kitchen. Cherries were on sale at the store so I thought I'd pick up a few. I remember seeing a recipe for Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake on The recipe is originally from Bon Appetit.

I didn't have high hopes for this cake as I poured the batter over the cooked cherries. It all sort of meshed together and I was sure it wasn't going to come out right. It didn't really come out as an upside-down cake, but it tasted amazing! The cornmeal adds the perfect texture to the cake. The cherries were wonderfully sweet and the balsamic added just the right touch. My only regret is not making two!

Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2008
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 cups whole pitted fresh Bing cherries or other dark sweet cherries (about 21 ounces whole unpitted cherries)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground medium grind)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Combine 1/4 cup butter with brown sugar and vinegar in 10- to 11-inch ovenproof skillet with 2-inch-high sides. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to high; add cherries and bring to boil. Remove from heat.
Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl. Add sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with milk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff but not dry. Using rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of whites into batter to lighten slightly. Fold in remaining whites in 3 additions (batter will be thick). Spoon batter over cherries in skillet, then spread evenly with offset spatula to cover cherries.
Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in skillet on rack 5 minutes. Run spatula around edges of cake to loosen. Place large serving platter upside down atop skillet. Using pot holders or oven mitts, firmly hold platter and skillet together and invert. Leave skillet atop cake 5 minutes. Remove skillet. If necessary, rearrange any cherries that may have become dislodged. Let cake cool at least 45 minutes. Cut cake into wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.